Marriage in any language means union, but in the Hindu sacred language, Sanskrit, it means a special bond. It is a bond of love with perfect aspiration to achieve harmony. Marriage is not only the coming together of two persons and their families but also a bond of souls. In the Hindu custom marriage is not only an important social duty, but also a great spiritual significance.
In marriage, ideally, there is a harmonious adjustment of two individuals to achieve perfect compatibility. Such a bond should be based on an unshakable and absolute trust in one another. In the marriage ceremony, both the bride and bride groom promise to achieve such a union of souls. These promises are made not only in the presence of friends and family, but also during the Havan ceremony, before God.
The groom is received by the Bride's parents and other members of the family. The Bridegroom steps on a clay pot which represents the world. The Bride's mother escorts the Bridegroom to the mandap.
• Ganesh Pooja
This is performed by the Bride's parents to solicit Ganesh's blessings to dispell darkness, ignorance and remove any obstacles.
Madhuparka is a mixture of milk, honey, yoghurt and ghee. Honey symbolises the sweetness in life and the yoghurt the strength. This is traditionally used in welcoming the son-in-law. The father of the bride will wash the right foot of the Bridegroom with milk, yogurt and honey.
Brides maternal uncle or brides brother will escort her to the mandap.
• Jaimala or varmala
Next to the canopy (Mandap) Bride and Groom acknowledge and greet each other by garlanding one another, witnessed by all the guests present.
Brides parents will give their daughter away to Groom as his wife and he will graciously reply by accepting her.
A cotton loop (24 times) is placed on Bride and Groom's shoulder. This represents the twenty-four virtues and characteristics of a person in their lifetime.
• Hasta Melap
The father of the Bride gives his consent by placing his daughter's right hand into the Groom's right hand.
• Vastra Dhaaran & Granth Bandhan
Two pieces of scarves (Dupattaas) are put on the shoulders of the couple and a knot is tied between the scarves. The knot is a symbol of an unbreakable tie between the couple.
The fire god is invited by lighting the Holy fire under the canopy. The fire represents an eternal source of energy. The priest will recite the verses in Sanskrit and the participants will offer their obligations to the almighty Lord.
Bride's brother will be invited to the canopy and will be asked to put some rice in the hands of the couple, who together will walk around the fire four times, symbolising: • Substantial Food, Good Health, Wealth & Prosperity, Happiness, Blessings, Progeny and Close Union.
• Shapth Grahan (Marriage vows) & Paani Grahan.
While holding each other's hands they accept each other voluntarily in front of all the guests present. They will proceed to take several vows and accept each other's hand for the prosperity of the householder's life. They will vow to take care of each other, carry out household duties and social obligations, raise noble children, always be truthful and loving and live happily together.
• Sindoor Dan
The groom applies red vermillion powder to the bride's parting of hair and giving her Mangalsutra (sacred necklace) marking her as his own.
• Feeding sweets (Kansar)
The couple will feed each other little mithai (sweets) 5 times and wishing each other a sweet life.
• Akhand Saubhagyavati
Blessings are offered by married ladies from both families to the newly married bride.
• Aashrivaad (blessings)
The priest will ask the gathering to stand up and shower the married couple with flowers and rice while giving blessings to the couple. The newly married couple will touch their families' feet as a mark of respect and to receive blessings.